The original “Fashion Killa” comes out swinging at haters and misrepresenting rappers in the Shomi Patwary-directed video for “Multiply.” Images of Harlem’s ruggedness blend seamlessly with still images of high dollar lifestyles flashing on the screen behind Rocky like an old-style picture show. Juicy J and A$AP Mob have cameos in this gritty-yet-artistic clip.
Hottest Music Videos Of 2014
Mac Miller - Avian
Like Mac's music, this video is a psychedelic journey. Directed by Rex Arrow, the clip begins and ends with an older monk finding his way into nature while rapping Mac’s part. Unique camera work, dreamlike scenery and tranquil undertones make this the perfect visual to go along with the hazy track from the Pittsburgh MC’s latest album, Watching Movies With The Sound Off.
P Reign feat. Drake - DnF
Drizzy puts on his director's hat for this video, which basically shows the vacation every single man dreams of. P. Reign and his boss, Drake (who also stars in the video), get recruited by a papered-up, slightly more seasoned pair of females that have an entire mansion in paradise all to themselves. The scene is enough to make you want to book that plane ticket out of the snow for the holidays.
YG - Bicken Back Bein Bool
Gangsta Rap has enjoyed a recent renaissance and Compton’s newest prodigy YG is a big part of the reason why. In this Alex Nazario-directed video, shit gets a little too real when YG and his red rag squad is confronted with a guns-drawn situation which seems all too normal for them. Dodging the cops and dealing with life and death situations on the daily is an inescapable reality for the people growing up in YG’s neighborhood.
Nicki Minaj - Anaconda
Nicki ups the ante in what is easily the most provocative music video to hit the web this year. The Colin Tilley-directed clip took Sir-Mix-A-Lot’s pop culture smash “Baby Got Back” to the next level. Nicki, wearing about as little as she can legally get away with, goes through a series of “workouts” with her seductive team behind her. From the jungle to the gym, this one upped the ante of sexuality in hip-hop.
RiFF RAFF - Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz
With Neon Icon highlight "Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz," RiFF RAFF had an unexpected viral hit on his hands. The video features Femmebot-esque women chilling with Jody in an icy video.
Ty Dolla $ign - Stand For
While Ty is known for keeping his subject matter light, he took a serious turn for “Stand For,” the DJ Dahi and Diplo-produced track. In the video, which was directed by The Sacred Egg, Ty tours the hood in LA showing the homies and the rest of the community accompanied by their own principles and what they stand for in the form of their own facial reflection. It was another creative notch on the king of “Ratchet R&B"'s belt.
Action Bronson - Easy Rider
At just under five minutes long, this video was a western and motorcycle movie all in one (aka "Easy Rider," the original film), with the pugnacious redhead serving as the western style hero that does his dirt all by his lonesome. Travis Mitchell directed this cinematic journey taken by one man in search of his guitar. If you ever wondered what a Dennis Hopper flick would look like with a bearded up big man, this is the joint.
Bobby Shmurda - Hot Nigga
Everyone from the streets to the suburbs was doing the “Shmoney Dance” when this banger came out. The beat may have been (legally) taken from Lloyd Banks, but the video is what took this craze to the next level. While this wasn’t a high budget ball off, Bobby showed why music videos still matter in pop culture, and thanks to social media, this one enjoyed viral stardom and catapulted the Brooklyn-based MC to pop culture's consciousness.
Pusha T - Lunch Money
Push may have made the switch from one superstar producer’s label to another, but when it comes to the music, it still centers around his former hustle: drugs. In this one, surveillance footage looks to take down the king, but catches only the best dance moves ever performed by a fiend. Push stays posted in the Porsche for most of the Emil Nava-directed clip.
ScHoolboy Q - Break The Bank
For those that miss that '90s West Coast backdrops in movies like Boyz n’ Da Hood and Menace II Society, Q and director Jason Goldwatch take it back to the streets of South Central, going from sitting at a piano with his daughter (who watches over him throughout the video), to venturing through some of the authentic spots from his hood. It wouldn’t be a West Coast party without a bunch of people toasting 40 ounces and working the grill on the front porch.
Beyonce - 7/11
The penthouse floor of LA’s famous Beverly Wilshire Hotel got raided by Queen Bey for the "7/11" video, which featured her, both by herself and with a 5 girl dance troop, showing out for the single camera. This was a departure from her usual big budget production, but even without that, Mrs. Carter still made it one of the year’s most buzzed-about releases.
J. Cole - She Knows
A young teen deceives his parents by skipping school with his best friend to go skateboarding in this Sam Pilling-directed visual for the latest single off of Cole’s Born Sinner. All seems fine until the kid comes home early to find out that his mom is the one with the real secret. Now he’s the one who knows, but as is code, he’s not snitching.
As a relative newcomer to the mainstream, La Flame is showing that his artistry is not limited to his music. Rich Homie Quan and Young Thug join Scott in a parking lot surrounded by dime pieces and lowriders. The scene shifts to Scott in a dark room surrounded by a gaggle of women wearing nothing but body paint, while a mesmerized Travis tries to avoid the spell.
The Detroit MC gets his "Friday Night Lights" on in this Lawrence Lamont-directed visual for his redemption song. Sean, in the Peyton Manning role, looks to overcome the distraction of his newly minted ex-girl, who he realizes is nothing more than an energy vampire. Coach Kanye and Sean’s teammate in the video (DJ Mustard) teamed up for this banger, and Sean even got E-Feezy to serve as the play-by-play man in the booth.
Wiz Khalifa - We Dem Boyz
Taylor Alderdice recreates his life as the most popular man on the block even during humbler times. Ethan Lader directed this day-in-the-life video which follows Wiz as he gets up out of bed to take a walk around the Pittsburgh-style neighborhood, while the people rejoice in his presence. The homies, women and children (which includes Rich Homie Quan in the crowd) give the PA boss his dap, and Ty Dolla $ign even rolls up in the Impala.
Reality and virtual reality collide in this Austin Peters-directed collage of phone sex vixens expressing their lustful ambitions. Those that miss music videos from the early '90s should enjoy this one, which uses lapses to symbolize the distortion going through Shlohmo and Jeremih’s brains as they deal with the best possible kind of distraction.
iLoveMakonnen - Too Much
Funny man Andy Milonakis directed and starred in this video as a clown who is caught up in the drama of having a pretty girl chasing him and an abundance of cash. The short but sweet visual served as a humorous take on the gift and the curse of having money and women, yet feeling trapped in your own world.
This is one of the best and also one of the most morbid video depictions of the year, as first King Push and then August Alsina go through an out-of-body experience watching their physical selves at the end. The visceral visual, which was directed by Payne Lindsey and August, is the realization of thoughts that a lot of people have when life comes to be too much. Push sees himself get taken away in the ambulance, the victim of a more ambiguous fate, while Alsina sees himself in a noose, a more obvious end.
Kendrick Lamar - i
King Kendrick does it again, catching everybody off guard by dropping one of the year’s biggest and most polarizing singles. The video, which was done by French director Alexandre Moors, seems to represent a light in the darkness as Kendrick, rocking a white tee that looks like a lightbulb in a pitch black room, strolls confidently with his whole community behind him. The '70s and today collide making this one of the year’s most artistic visuals, and who better to bring it than Compton’s own Good Kid.
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2014's best music videos.
Music videos have always been an integral part of hip-hop. Whether it’s shots of the neighborhoods that birthed some of the world’s biggest stars, or the spoils that come with commercial victories, the visuals are a crucial component to solidifying artistic expression.
Like a good soundtrack does for a movie, these videos helped make 2014’s hottest songs even more memorable. From Action Bronson, who made a mini western flick, to Kendrick Lamar, who brought the spirit of the '70s into the modern era, and even Bobby Shmurda, who reemphasized the fact that you don't have to have a big budget for people to pay attention to you. As expected, A$AP Rocky brought out the best in fashion while still catering to his comrades from his pre-fame neighborhood.
In recent years, hip-hop videos have often been limited to club scenes and showing off in cars (in most cases that the artist had to rent or borrow for the video), but this year, many of the genre's biggest names got away from that trend. Oh, and once again, Beyonce hit us with something we couldn't have expected.
Note: This list is presented in no specific order.